the Beheaded Buddha
The Beheaded Buddhas, 2021
When looking at the severed head of a Buddha in a museum, I had never asked myself: “Where is the body of this head?” It doesn’t take a detective’s trained eye to notice the signs of fracture, the broken edges on the neck of the exposed and bodiless head. It was due to ignorance that I did not ask the question. I ignored the discontinuity of the figurative and its absence because of the exhibition itself. The museum seemed to confirm that no further explanation was needed, and the disembodied “head on a stick” did not produce any cognitive dissonance that would have led me to question the scene. I simply didn’t need to ask: “Where is the body of this head?” And yet, very curiously, the first question I asked myself upon seeing the Buddha statues without their heads in Angkor Wat was insistent: “Where is the head of this body?”
The essay "The Beheaded Buddha," in Decapitated Economies, intercalations 5, eds. A.-S. Springer and E. Turpin (Berlin: K. Verlag and Haus der Kulturen der Welt, 2021).
the publication can be found here (external link)